Sac State women’s basketball team gets statement win in 86-55 home opener

Hornets never let their foot off the gas against CSU Maritime


Brooke Uhlenhop

Sac State sophomore guard Emily Enochs drives to the basket against Cal State Maritime Academy on Wednesday, Nov. 13 at The Nest. The Hornets beat the Keelhaulers 86- 55.

Richard Ivanowski

The Sacramento State women’s basketball team hosted their first game of the season Wednesday night at The Nest, forcing 42 turnovers and winning emphatically 86-55.

The visiting California State Maritime Keelhaulers fell victim to a dominant Hornets (1-1) performance as they were soundly beaten.

Senior guard Gabi Bade, sophomore guard Summer Menke, junior guard Kennedy Burks and sophomore forward Tiana Johnson all started their second consecutive game.

Senior guard Camariah King was unavailable due to a right ankle injury, allowing sophomore guard Milee Enger to log a start at point guard. Senior forward Kennedy Nicholas remained sidelined as well.

Sac State controlled the game from the jump, scoring the first 10 points. The Hornets stuck to their gameplan of moving the ball fast and often. Seven players scored in the first five minutes alone.

The Hornets built their 28-14 advantage in the first quarter by playing the passing lanes expertly, forcing 15 turnovers from Maritime. Menke grabbed four steals by herself, including two on back-to-back plays.

Maritime briefly gained momentum in the second quarter as senior forward Tyra Fai’malo grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back to cut their deficit to 13, but it didn’t last long.

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Sac State grew its lead to 25 at 55-30 by halftime. Bade led all scorers with 15 and freshman forward Jessena Pardo led the Keelhaulers with eight as the teams went to the locker rooms.

The Hornets forced a 27th turnover by the eight-minute mark in the third quarter, employing an aggressive full-court press despite their 61-31 lead.

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The rest of the third quarter was characterized by more look-ahead passes in transition. Sac State head coach Bunky Harkleroad continued to call for his players to push in transition and make the easy pass.

Bade found a streaking Menke just before the end of the third for her 12th and 13th points of the competition. Menke went on to finish with 18 points, seven rebounds and five steals.

“We like to swing the ball and look inside,” Menke said after the game. “It doesn’t matter who you are, we always give it to the person who’s the most open and can get the easiest shot.”

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Brooke Uhlenhop
Sac State freshman forward Sharaya Coe shoots a free throw against Cal State Maritime Academy on Wednesday, Nov. 13, at The Nest. Coe played 18 minutes for the Hornets off the bench and had a game-high 12 rebounds.

Despite maintaining a healthy lead for the entire second half, Harkleroad appeared to relish the opportunity to establish the mentality he wanted. He kept his starters in the game into the fourth quarter and continued to demand more and more defensive pressure.

“We’re just trying to get better,” Harkleroad said of his defensive approach after the game. “We have (only) one defense right now ー man-to-man, run and jump.”

Harkleroad said he may implement more zone looks as the year goes on, but for now energy is key.

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When junior guard Elizabeth Martinez drilled an open corner three for Maritime to make it 72-45, Harkleroad was furious about the missed rotation and let his team know it.

“We’re on them about doing those little things right, regardless of the score,” Harkleroad said.

The Hornets never let their foot off the gas in the fourth, as they coasted to an 86-55 win. 

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Menke had a game-high 18 points and Sac State freshman forward Sharaya Coe collected a game-high 12 rebounds. Martinez finished with a team-high 13 points for Maritime.

Harkleroad also noted that he expects Nicholas, a 2018-19 Big Sky all-conference third team player, to be healthy by this weekend.

Sac State looks to string together a second consecutive win as they go on the road to face San Jose State University this Sunday at 2:05 p.m.